Catcher in the Rye: Explain Holden's response to Mr. Spencer's admonition to Holden that "life is a game played according to the rules."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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To a certain extent, Holden feels a bit dismayed at the cliched setting and advice that Spencer offers.  On one level, Holden understands that Spencer cares for him and this is evident in the fact that he wished to meet with him.  On the other hand, Holden feels that Mr. Spencer has genuine and sincere feelings for his well- being.  This is contrary to the attitude at Pencey and what Holden perceives to be the overall perspective of adults, whom he considers to be phony.  The awkwardness at which Spencer seeks to establish that bond with Holden by using cliches and platitudes is something that Holden notes as representative of his overall association with adults.  In the end, Holden understands that Spencer wishes the best for him, but cannot fully embrace the expression of it because it possesses the look and feel of the in-authenticity that he feels is a part of so much human interaction.

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